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Idaho State University among regional 13-university partnership led by UNLV to put ‘bench-to-bedside’ research into practice

September 19, 2013
ISU Marketing and Communications

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) announced a five-year, $20.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a health research network of 13 universities across the Mountain West, including Idaho State University.

The University of Nevada School of Medicine will partner on the grant that was announced on Sept. 18. 

The Clinical Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) will expand the capacity of partner institutions across seven states to put clinical research into practice to address regional health concerns including access to care, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

Rex Force, PharmD, associate dean for clinical research for the Idaho State University Division of Health Sciences Idaho Center for Health Research, said he is excited about the grant and what it means for ISU and the residents of Idaho.

"We're partners on the project, but UNLV did the heavy lifting," Force said. "This grant will significantly improve our research capacity at ISU in the health professions and the work coming out of this grant is expected to impact the health of people living in Idaho and other western states."

"This grant will be a game-changer for Nevada and the entire region," said program director Dr. Robert D. Langer, a physician and epidemiologist with more than 25 years of related research experience. Langer holds faculty appointments at UNLV's School of Allied Health Sciences and the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

"We will now have the means to address the unique health needs of people in the Mountain West, which covers one third of the U.S. and faces tremendous health care delivery challenges," said Langer. "While we've been successful in building basic science research, until now we’ve had a tough time building traction for research that can help everyday people. This grant will help us change that."

ISU will receive funding for statistical support to help ISU researchers with study design and research analysis. Direct infrastructure funding from this grant will go to the Idaho Center for Health Research within ISU’s Division of Health Sciences. Additionally, over the five-year span of the grant, ISU health professions researchers can receive pilot grant funding. Potentially, Force said, several hundred thousand of dollars of research funding could come to ISU because of this grant.

"'Bench-to-bedside' or translational research is the type of research that occurs in the health professions and really ends up improving the health of people and patients," Force said.

ISU, like other partner institutions, will share resources and expertise to centralize services for researchers. This will improve research capacity at the institutional level and increase the likelihood for future independent NIH-funded research studies. Services/resources include:

• Pilot grants of one to two years per award for clinical and translational research.

• A virtual clinical translational science center hosted at UNLV and tailored to the needs of the 13 partner institutions.

• Mini-sabbaticals and visiting scholar awards to promote greater collaboration.

• Biostatistical support, mentorship, educational opportunities, and editorial and administrative support.

• Annual meetings focused on themes drawn from the health issues of the region.

Though most CTR-IN universities have successful programs in basic science, they lack capacity in clinical or bench-to-bedside research – what the NIH refers to as translational research – and have limited resources to support faculty conducting this type of work. Only three partner institutions have medical schools and the two outside of Nevada – the Universities of New Mexico and Hawaii – have NIH-funded research centers to provide additional support to CTR-IN partners.  With this grant, Nevada achieves similar leadership capability.

Grant funding comes from the NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program. IDeA grants are intended to enhance the caliber of scientific faculty at research institutions in historically underfunded IDeA-eligible states, thereby attracting more promising faculty and students. The CTR-IN will further this goal among the 13 partnering universities that also include the University of Alaska, Anchorage; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of Hawaii at Manoa; Boise State University; Idaho State University; University of Idaho; Montana State University; University of Montana; University of New Mexico; New Mexico State University; and the University of Wyoming. 

UNLV will coordinate the grant through its School of Allied Health Sciences. Each of the member institutions will provide administrative, personnel and infrastructure support.


Contact: For information on the entire grant, contact Tony Allen, UNLV (702) 895-3102; tony.allen@unlv.edu. For information on Idaho State University’s role in the grant, contact Rex Force, ISU Associate Dean for Clinical Research, Idaho Center for Health Research, ISU Division of Health Sciences, 208-282-4177, or  forcrex@isu.edu




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